Felipe Mier
General Manager Mexico at Kingspan Insulated Panels
View from the Top

Cutting Times and Costs, Increasing Safety

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:58

Q: How can Mexico bridge its innovation gap in the infrastructure industry?
A: Construction sustainability is one of the main industry challenges in Latin America. Buildings must be efficient, profitable and safe. In Mexico, the market is demanding the professionalization of construction but with more cost-effective products. There are more regulations and policies to enhance construction performance. For example, earthquakes further the demand for safer buildings, while the scarcity of resources leads to a more efficient and eco-friendly use of materials. In advancing a culture of safer construction, fires represent a great risk as some materials are not regulated for fire prevention. One of the main building certifications promoted by Kingspan is FM approval for fire management, increasing safety and reducing insurance costs. We also work with LEED for sustainability.
Also, Mexico has different worlds regarding construction regulations. Obviously, prime projects, such as NAIM, comply with the highest international standards. But the lower-scale projects are not bound by the same regulations so the industry has a great deal of opportunity regarding construction codes, products and material regulations and best practices. Aligning these would contribute to bridging the country’s infrastructure gap.
Q: How do your insulation solutions help improve the safety and efficiency of construction?
A: Insulated panels have the advantage of reducing construction waste and making the process faster and more efficient. It allows cleaner building using less labor. Regarding construction times, installing insulated panels is very quick, allowing reductions in cladding, roofing and wall construction time by six to seven weeks. After setting up the metallic structure, up to 240m2 in panels can be installed per day by a four-person team. Traditional methods, such as concrete and blocks, take more time and require the disposal of construction debris when the work is finished. As panels are installed faster and with less staffing, labor costs are reduced and streamlined.
Kingspan panels decrease the spread of fire through a special foam that we developed 20 years ago, made of polyisocyanurate. In Mexico, 80 percent of insulated panels are made of polyurethane. But this material has basically been phased out of the US and European markets in favor of polyisocyunarate while Latin America has yet to catch up. The benefits of polyisocyanurate is that it is more fire-resistant and helps prevent the structural collapse of buildings. Also, polyurethane generates a toxic smoke when burned, and the inhalation of these fumes is often cited as the cause of fatalities in fires. Our panels comply with all the structural resistance regulations, such as for earthquakes and high winds up.
Q: What are Kingspan Mexico’s most emblematic projects?
A: The incipient residential real estate remains key for development in Mexico, given how well-positioned traditional housing construction is. The industrial and commercial real estate segments have the most demand for insulated panels. Kingspan Mexico has worked on several significant projects, such as the roofing for the workshop where the components for the Guadalajara Light Train are being manufactured. The Heineken facilities in Tijuana and Mexicali also use Kingspan panels.  
Kingspan is also participating in NAIM, which has been a long and challenging process. We worked closely with the master plan architects, striving to replicate the work that Kingspan carried out in similar projects, such as the airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in which we contributed the ceilings for the terminals. For NAIM, we won the tender for the control tower’s ceilings, to be completed in the summer of 2018. But the control tower, at approximately 2,000m2, is a small project compared to the 250,000m2 roofing of the passenger’s terminal. Kingspan is also in talks with the construction companies who won this tender to obtain the contract for the insulation panels.